pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Encouraging and Uplifting

Reading: 2nd Timothy 4: 16-18

Verse 17: “The Lord stood by my side and gave me strength, so that the message might be fully received”.

As a young married couple my wife and I became part of a couple’s group at our church. Each month when we would gather, we would talk about marriage and we would listen to the stories of the two older couples who led the group. Their experiences made our marriages better. Over the course of the past 20+ years I have been blessed to be in and eventually to lead numerous Bible studies and other small groups. In each of these settings there were always more experienced disciples of Christ. From these would and do come stories of faith and of when God acted in their lives. These witnesses to the faith were encouraging and uplifting for my journey of faith.

Paul has been mentoring young Timothy. He has chosen him to carry on the work of spreading the gospel. Paul is entrusting his life’s work to this young disciple. Timothy has shown himself capable and gifted. This is not a random selection. So in today’s passage Paul has a few stories to share with Timothy. He begins by sharing that at times one may feel alone in ministry – “everyone deserted me”. Paul quickly follows up with a deeper truth: “The Lord stood by my side and gave me strength, so that the message might be fully received”. God did not ever desert him! Just the opposite – God delivered him “from the lion’s mouth”. With an assurance based on both faith and experience, Paul adds that God has rescued him from every evil attack and will continue to do so as God brings Paul “safely to his heavenly kingdom”. Paul is sharing his faith and his experiences as a way to encourage and uplift young Timothy.

As I have progressed into my middle years, I find that I too have some stories to share. On the journey of faith we all have experiences when God guided or intervened or rescued us. These are the stories we have to tell to encourage and uplift those that we gather with on Sunday mornings, that we sit around a table with, that we work with… Like Paul, may we be intentional about passing the faith along to both those in our lives who are on the journey with us and to those yet to begin the journey, all for the glory of God.

Prayer: Father God, thank you for the journey so far. You have been with me in many ways and many times. Each experience with you builds up my faith and helps me grow closer to you. Open my eyes to the blessings and to the opportunities to share my faith with others. Amen.


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Guard the Deposit

Reading: 2nd Timothy 1: 8-14

Verse 14: “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in you”.

Paul opens our passage today by reminding Timothy that he should not be ashamed of the gospel. Paul even invites Timothy to suffer with him for the gospel. Because of their call by God, they are seeking to live out a holy life. To do so, he reminds Timothy to rely on the grace that is found in Jesus Christ. Paul then reminds Timothy that Jesus Christ also “destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to life through the gospel”.

In these few verses Paul has covered the essentials of the faith. He has also spoken of a reality: at times believers suffer for their faith. No one wants to suffer but at times we will because the world is sometimes opposed to the truth of the gospel and to the living out and sharing of our faith. Paul states in verse twelve that he is not ashamed because he knows “whom I have believed” and he also knows that Jesus is able to guard what Paul has entrusted to him. Paul has given his whole life – all that he is – to serve Jesus Christ. The gospel that Paul preaches has the power to save him. Of this Paul is convinced.

As the mentor, Paul encourages Timothy to “keep the pattern” that he demonstrated. He wants Timothy to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ with the faith and love of Jesus Christ himself. In the suffering and in the joy, Paul has trusted in Jesus Christ. To that end Paul says, “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in you”. The good news of the gospel is the deposit. It is the rock solid truth upon which Timothy must stand. Timothy, like us, does not have to stand alone. The Holy Spirit helps the disciple to guard the deposit so that the world does not overcome. The voice of the Spirit guards against all other voices as it guides us to live out that holy life. May we ever seek the guidance and power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Prayer: Lord God, the pull of the world is constant. Make the voice of the Holy Spirit even more constant. Open my ears and heart to always seek you and your Spirit. Amen.


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Teach and Share. Repeat.

Reading: 2Timothy 3:14 to 4:5

Timothy has been richly blessed in his life.  His family has encouraged and taught him on his early faith journey.  They planted and nurtured the seeds of faith that God watered and made grow.  Paul steps into Timothy’s life to continue to teach and correct and encourage him as he grows in his faith.  Timothy is now at a point where he is ready to preach the Word, to use his faith to help others on their journey of faith.  Timothy’s faith has grown to the point that he feels God’s call upon his life.

We too have walked (or are walking) a similar path.  Our faith is meant to be lived out in community.  It began that we with Jesus and a small group of followers.  Jesus taught them the faith so that they too could one day share the good news with others.  After they had been with Jesus for a sufficient time, He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.  The disciples went out and shared their growing faith with others.  Their own faith grew and they returned to Jesus to learn some more.

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the disciples continued to learn and grow from each other and by the power of the Holy Spirit.  We, as current disciples, are called to the same life.  Be in the community, be in small groups to encourage, support, and learn together.  Go out into the world to teach and Share our faith.  Return for more encouraging, supporting, and learning.  Head back out into the world to teach and Share.  Repeat often.  May we learn to follow Jesus’ example, modeled by Paul as well.


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Pour

Reading: 2 Timothy 3: 14-17

No one wakes up one day and finds themselves to be a fully developed, totally mature Christian.  Our walk of faith is a long journey, one that only ends when we stand before Jesus in eternity.  Who we are today as a believer is not who we will be in a year or in a decade.  Even though we never get “there”, we are all on a ‘journey towards perfection ‘, as John Wesley liked to say.

No one journeys alone.  In our passage today, Paul speaks of Timothy knowing the Scriptures since infancy.  Earlier in 2nd Timothy Paul speaks of Timothy’s grandmother Lois and mother Eunice living out and teaching their faith to him.  Then Paul joins this “great cloud of witness” as he too pours into and mentors Timothy.  To this crowd Paul also adds the Scriptures.  In the Word of God there is much instruction and guidance too.

Over the course of our faith lives we find people who poured into us.  These persons could be a pastor, a boss, a spouse, a friend, a colleague.  People of faith in our lives have taught, mentored, encouraged, corrected, guided, and loved on us as they shared their faith with us so that ours would grow.  For each we are grateful and thankful and always indebted.

As we grow in our faith, at some point, we too become teachers, mentors, guides.  We see the spark of God light up in a new believer and the Holy Spirit leads us to walk alongside this person.  Like Paul, we pour into our friend new to the faith.  Like all those who poured into us, we in turn pour into others.  We too become part of that great cloud of witness.  We are blessed to be part of the family of God.  This pattern of discipleship began with Jesus, when He gathered 12 around Him and began to pour into them.  May we go and do likewise.


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Together 

Reading: 2 Timothy 1: 1-8

Paul and Timothy have a special bond.  Paul calls him “my dear son” and Timothy sees Paul as a father figure.  Paul has mentored Timothy and watched him grow in his faith.  Timothy has been poured into by Paul, both in terms of the knowledge of the faith and in how to live out that faith.  Again we read of tears.  Paul recalls Timothy’s tears at their last parting and declares that he longs to see Timothy again.  These tears are partly tears of sorrow but they also testify to the deep, deep connection that Paul and Timothy feel through Christ.

Paul encourages Timothy in these opening verses.  He first reminds him of the “sincere faith” that he sees in Timothy, a faith not only taught but passed down to Timothy.  He exhorts Timothy to “fan into flames the gift of God” which is present in and through the Holy Spirit.  In this section Paul finishes by encouraging Timothy to live out a bold faith, empowered by love and self-discipline.  The mentor is building up the pupil while he is physically distant.

But this is not a one-way street.  Paul also receives from Timothy.  Paul us writing Timothy at a time when he is in custody.  It is a time of suffering for Paul.  As he looks around Paul sees that he is all alone, that all have deserted him.  Paul is a prisoner for Christ and he is reaching out to Timothy, his dear friend.  In his suffering, Paul draws strength from the relationship he has with Timothy.  He also knows that Timothy will pray often for him and will be with him in spirit.

In our walk of faith we will have mentors who help us grow in our faith and at times we too will pour into others.  Our faith is a communal faith, one that is to be lived out together.  It is both a joy to walk alongside a brother or sister growing in Christ as well as to walk alongside them in their times of pain and suffering.  May the Lord bless each of us as we laugh and cry and grow together with our brothers and sisters in Christ.